Just Like Me
When I was young, I took piano lessons, and after a while I started to get to the point where I could play real songs. In our piano bench (like every other piano bench at the time) was a storage bin that would contain a smorgasbord of random sheet music. You never knew what you might find! In my house, it turned out there was quite a bit of 70’s pop music available: “You Light Up My Life,” the theme from “The Young And The Restless,” and other milquetoast offerings were in there, some of it of my own doing. Ah, youth.
And so, I would pull out something on occasion to work on, often not knowing anything about it. Like most milquetoast, most of it was quite forgettable, lyrically. Except for one song. Harry Chapin’s 1974 hit, “Cat’s In The Cradle,” struck a nerve, even in my youth.
The lyrics aren’t hyperbolic, over-the-top, or extreme in any way. In fact, the tone of the whole story is so …normal. It sounds like life in every house up and down the block. Which is probably why Chapin’s brother, Tom, described the song as one that "put more fathers ill at ease than any other song in history."
For those of you under the age of 40, the song “Cat’s In The Cradle” tells the story of a man who is so busy with life that he forgets what is one of its most important aspects.
That would be being there for his son:
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
Interestingly, the son harbors no ill will towards his father. Instead, the son is proud of his father, and vows to become just like him:
My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's okay"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"
Why is that?
Because that’s what he knows. That’s normal to him. He looks up to his father, who is obviously very busy doing great things.
We are taught in this country that we must do great things. We have to be the best at everything, win every game, make more money than the next guy, have a fancy house with two, maybe three, fancy cars parked out front. All the while, we’re working so hard to get ahead, that we don’t have time to enjoy life. Our God has blessed us so richly, especially in this country! But it is so easy to get caught up in the rat race, fretting about what we don’t have, that we forget to enjoy what we do have. At the same time, we are teaching our children what is important to us.
Jesus teaches us that we will have all we need, as long as we seek Him first:
"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? "And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even
Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. " (Mat 6:27-33)
Compared to most people in the history of the world, I live like a king.
- I have all the food I need. I can walk into the kitchen at any time, day or night, and choose from a variety of things to eat.
- I have a fine home to live in. It’s warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
- I have reliable transportation. It is also warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
This doesn’t even begin to mention the simple, day-to-day comforts that I have.
God has already blessed me with more than enough. Why should I be trying to get more?
Harry Chapin was killed in a car wreck when he was 38 years old. Ironically, he never lived long enough to see his children grow up, nor learn the impact of his life decisions upon them.
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me!
Do you want your boy to grow up just like you?